Barack Obama

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Goodbye Fourth Amendment: Homeland Security Affirms "Suspicionless" Confiscation Of Devices Along Border





Slowly but surely the administration is making sure that both the US constitution, and its various amendments, become a thing of the past. In the name of national security, of course. And while until now it was the First and Second amendments that were the target of the administration's ongoing efforts to eavesdrop on anyone, all the time, in order to decide who may be a domestic terrorist and thus fit for 'droning', coupled with an aggressive push to disarm and curtail the propagation of weapons in what some perceive is nothing more than an attempt to take away a population's one recourse to defend itself against a tyrannical government, the time may be coming to say goodbye to the Fourth amendment - the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures - next. But only in close proximity to the border at first. According to Wired, "the Department of Homeland Security’s civil rights watchdog has concluded that travelers along the nation’s borders may have their electronics seized and the contents of those devices examined for any reason whatsoever — all in the name of national security."

 
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"No Easy Off-Ramps" - Compare And Contrast





"I will veto any effort to get rid of the automatic spending cuts" - Barack Obama, November 21, 2011

...

"The President will urge Congress to come together and act to ensure these devastating cuts to defense and job-creating programs don’t take effect." - White House statement, February 5, 2013

 
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Arm Syrian Rebels: CIA, Pentagon And Hillary Said Yes; Obama Just Said No





It would appear the undecideds had it. The WSJ reports that a proposal to arm Syrian rebels was stalled by the White House (cough Obama cough) because of lingering questions about which rebels could be trusted with the arms, whether the transfers would make a difference in the campaign to remove Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, and whether the weapons would add to the suffering. It seems, however, that the Pentagon, the State Department, and the CIA were all gung ho for the plan last year as a Senate hearing today uncovered some of the facts (and disagreements). As WSJ notes, the disclosures thrust a spotlight on the extent to which President Barack Obama charts his own course in the face of calls to action by members of his own team, and on the extent of his caution about entering a new conflict. In the post-Kofi Annan talks break-down in June 2012, Hilary pushed to arm the rebels and the CIA said arms would "materially" affect the situation to overthrow Assad. With the introduction of Kerry, Hagel, and Brennan, the tensions may flare once again though only the latter has suggested anything but backing Obama's perspective.

 
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Frontrunning: February 7





  • Bersani's lead over Berlusconi continues to erode, now just 3.6 Pts, or inside error margin, in Tecne Poll
  • Spain gears up for U.S. debt investor meetings (Reuters)
  • PBOC Set for Record Weekly Liquidity Injection (WSJ)
  • RBS Trader Helped UBS’s Hayes With Libor Bribes, Regulators Say (BBG)
  • ECB, Ireland reach bank debt deal (Reuters)
  • AMR-US Airways Near Merger Agreement (WSJ)
  • Monte Paschi says no more derivatives losses (Reuters) ... remember this
  • Harvard’s Gopinath Helps France Beat Euro Straitjacket (BBG) - by sliding into recession?
  • Obama Relents on Secret Drone Memo (WSJ)
  • Brennan to face questions on interrogations, drones and leaks (Reuters)
  • Wall Street Success With Germans Boomerangs (BBG)
  • Khamenei rebuffs U.S. offer of direct talks (Reuters)
  • Boeing Preps Redesign to Get 787 Flying  (WSJ)
 
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Frontrunning: February 6





  • Tunisian opposition politician shot dead, protests erupt (Reuters)
  • China says extremely concerned after latest North Korea threats (Reuters)
  • Postal Service to cut Saturday mail to trim costs (AP)
  • Debt Rise Colors Budget Talks (WSJ)
  • Obama proposes short-term budget fix, Republicans swiftly object (Reuters)
  • S&P Analyst Joked of Bringing Down the House Before Crash (BBG)
  • Dell’s Bigger Challenge Ahead in Turnaround After Buyout (BBG)
  • Some of the Mark Carney Gloss Is Coming Off (WSJ)
  • Japan Official Says BOJ Tools Sufficient as Shake-Up Looms (BBG)
  • S&P Lawsuit Undermined by SEC Rules That Impede Competition (BBG)
  • Heavy Clashes Erupt in Syrian Capital (WSJ)
 
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Student Loan Bubble Forces Yale, Penn To Sue Their Own Students





We have not been shy about exposing the massive (and unsustainable) bubble of credit being blown into the economy via Student Loans from the government. We have not been afraid to note the dramatic rise in delinquencies among these loans - and the implications for the government. However, as Bloomberg reports, it appears the impact of this exuberance has come back to bite the colleges themselves. In what can only be described as a vendor-financing model, the so-called Perkins loans (for students with extraordinary financial hardships) have seen defaults surging more than 20%. The vicious circle, though, has begun as the ponzi of using these revolving loan funds to 'fund' the next round of students is collapsing thanks to the rise in delinquencies. Schools such as Yale, Penn, and George Washington are becoming very aggressive at going after delinquent student borrowers. While financially hard-up graduates complain of no jobs, the schools are not impressed: "You could take a job at Subway or wherever to pay the bills ... It seems like basic responsibility to me," but perhaps that is the point - avoiding responsibility is seemingly rewarded in the new normal.

 
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Frontrunning: February 1





  • 'London Whale' Sounded an Alarm on Risky Bets (WSJ)
  • Deadly Blast Strikes U.S. Embassy in Turkey (WSJ)
  • Abe Shortens List for BOJ Chief as Japan Faces Monetary Overhaul (BBG)
  • Endowment Returns Fail to Keep Pace with College Spending (BBG) - More student loans
  • Mexico rescue workers search for survivors after Pemex blast kills 25 (Reuters)
  • Lingering Bad Debts Stifle Europe Recovery (WSJ)
  • Peregrine Founder Hit With 50 Years (WSJ) - there is hope Corzine will get pardoned yet
  • Deutsche Bank to Limit Immediate Bonuses to 300,000 Euros
  • France's Hollande to visit Mali Saturday (Reuters)
  • France, Africa face tough Sahara phase of Mali war (Reuters)
  • Barclays CEO refuses bonus (Barclays)
  • Edward Koch, Brash New York Mayor During 1980s Boom, Dies at 88 (BBG)
  • Samsung Doubles Tablet PC Market Share Amid Apple’s Lead (BBG)
 
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Labor Unions Finally Read Obamacare Fine Print, Realize Costs Set To Spike, "Turn Sour" On Obama





It is a well-known fact that nobody in Congress ever reads, or even skims, any law, and especially not the fine print, it passes until long after it has been enacted into law. It appears the same is just as true for the biggest pillar of support for the Obama administration: America's labor unions, whose liberal vote every election is instrumental to preserving the outflow side of America's welfare state. As it turns out, it was the same labor unions who enthusiastically supported the primary accomplishment of the Obama administration in the past 4 years, Obamacare, only to realize, long after it has become reality that, surprise, their healthcare plan costs are about to go up. And, as the WSJ colorfully summarizes, they are now "turning sour."

 
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Frontrunning: January 30





  • Boeing misses Q4 top line ($22.3 bn, Exp. $22.33 bn) beats EPS ($1.28, Exp. $1.18), guides lower: 2013 revenue $82-85 bn, Exp. 87.9 bn
  • Hilsenrath discovers DV01: Fed Risks Losses From Bonds  (WSJ)
  • Airlines had 787 battery issues before groundings (Reuters)
  • Monte Paschi ignored warnings over risk, documents show (Reuters) as did Mario Draghi
  • China averts local government defaults (FT)
  • Economy Probably Slowed as U.S. Spending Gain Drained Stockpiles (Bloomberg)
  • Bono Is No Match for Retail Slump Hitting Dublin’s Fifth Avenue (BBG)
  • Catalonia requests €9bn from rescue fund (FT)
  • US plans more skilled migrant visas (FT)
  • Japan PM shrugs off global criticism over latest stimulus steps (Reuters)
  • CIA nominee had detailed knowledge of "enhanced interrogation techniques" (Reuters)
  • Cleanliness Meets Godliness as Russia Reeled Into Cyprus (BBG)
  • Deutsche Bank Seen Missing Goldman-Led Gains on Cost Rise (BBG)
 
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Netanyahu Deploys 'Syrian' Iron-Dome As Israeli Minister Claims US Preparing 'Surgical' Strikes Against Iran





Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu says his nation must prepare for the threat of a chemical attack from Syria, amid concern at enemy efforts to test a post-election coalition Israel, and has deployed its new Iron Dome anti-missile system near the border with its northern neighbor. Along with this concern, as many have perhaps suspected, the Israeli Defense Minister confirmed yesterday that the US has prepared plans for a 'surgical' military operation to delay Iran's nuclear program. As The Jerusalem Post reports, Ehud Barak, added that in the past the US has been heavy-handed but that under Barack Obama, the United States has "prepared quite sophisticated, fine, extremely fine, scalpels," if the worse comes to the worst - even though the Israeli preference would be to end the nuclear threat diplomatically, calling for tougher sanctions (though he expressed doubt that diplomacy would lead to success). Just another geopolitical hotspot that the world's markets choose to ignore in deference to the one true leader - central bankers.

 
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Frontrunning: January 25





  • Fed Pushes Into ‘Uncharted Territory’ With Record Assets (BBG)
  • Next up in the currency wars: Korea - Samsung Drops on $2.8 Billion Won Profit-Cut Prediction (BBG)
  • China Warns ‘Hot Money’ Inflows Possible on Easing From Abroad (Bloomberg)
  • BOJ Shirakawa affirms easy policy pledge but warns of costs (Reuters)
  • Merkel Takes a Swipe at Japan Over Yen (WSJ)
  • Wages in way of Abe’s war on deflation (FT)
  • Italian PM under fire over bank crisis (FT)
  • Senior officials urge calm over islands dispute (China Daily)
  • Spain tries to peel back business rules (FT)
  • Rifts Over Cyprus Bailout Feed Broader Fears (WSJ)
  • Soros Says the Euro Is Here to Stay as Currency War Looms (BBG)
 
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Hamptons Prices Soar To Record As Lloyd Blankfein Parks $33 Million In 8,000 Square Foot Mansion





If there was any confusion where New York's uberwealthy were scrambling to dump their money in December ahead of the now official tax hike on the wealthiest, we now know: some two hours north on the Long Island Expressway, or the Hamptons to be precise. Bloomberg reports: "Home prices in New York’s Hamptons, the resort towns on the Long Island coast, rose to the highest on record as deals at the upper end of the market surged before expected tax increases for sellers. The average price of homes that sold in the fourth quarter jumped 35 percent from a year earlier to $2.13 million, the highest since Miller Samuel Inc. begin tracking Hamptons sales in 1999." Needless to say the when a handful of the 0.001%, and quite close to the New Normal discount window - i.e., the Fed's excess reserves - purchase homes with no price discrimination, it has the same impact as when foreign oligrachs come to the US to launder illgotten cash (with the NAR's blessings), sending prices up some 35% in one year. And since the average price of all houses is dragged higher as a result, TV pundits can spin it as a housing recovery, and get consumers to consume even more by "charging it", making the abovementioned Hamptons' home purchasers even richer: there's your recovery. And it is a recovery, all right, for some: like Lloyd Blankfein who just parked another $32.5 million in prime 8,000 square foot Bridgehampton mansion set on some 7.3 acres.

 
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